I was very pleased to secure a lunch time seating for a suburban Michelin starred ramen venue on the second attempt. Having to wake long before 6am to make the slog across town to join the queue before 7am, without success again would have been gut wrenching, at least a failure this time wouldn’t have be down to my own incompetent research, the first attempt having delivered me bleary eyed at an unopened restaurant.
With a time slot secured and a deposit paid I just need to kill some time before lunch, no problem, this is Tokyo. A little light shopping, a coffee or two and even a little breakfast, the time flew and soon enough I found myself queuing once again at the same little ramen restaurant.
I arrived back as advised this morning, a little after the assigned time, and was surprised to see the queue so long. Hopefully I’ll be eating soon but unless the shop is bigger than I expect, I may be waiting some time.
The time slot on my ticket became an empty promise as the hour rolled past and the queue had barely moved, I was assured this ramen was some of the best in the city, hence the second attempt, but I was beginning to doubt it was going to be worth the wait by the time I got inside. Being inside didn’t mean I would be eating soon, I was merely sat on the side line seats and that the kitchen now had my order.
The guests who took their space at the counter before me, waited another 15 minutes for their meals, despite the kitchen having their order the whole time they waited inside. I was appalled by the painfully slow service, I almost lost my fucking mind, there are only 8 seats at the kitchen counter where people eat and three people working in the kitchen. I couldn’t understand how or why it took so long for the orders to be filled, clearly these boys were some of the slowest cooks I had ever seen work, no wonder the queue was so slow moving.
I sat on my hands, and held my tongue while it took only a further 10 minutes after I had taken my seat for my soup to arrive, hoping this soup was going to be amazing. I have found that the longer I have to wait for food the better it needs to be, luckily this ramen was well worth the wait for me, an excellent soup indeed.
I had ordered the char siu wonton sio soba, a salt based ramen with white truffle flavour. The soup delivered pork wontons, extra roast pork and extra braised pork along with some poached and torn bamboo shoots and spearmint. Truly this was one of the best soups I’d had in Japan, and one of the most intriguing thanks to the slug of white truffle flavour that married wonderfully with the flavoursome broth.
My partner had ordered Shoyu TsukeSoba, a Tsukemen this being a soy based soup where the noodles, garnish and soup are served separately. And although the porcini laced soup was excellent the accompanying seasoned soft boiled egg, roast pork, braised pork, mashed potato and noodles had become quite cool by the time she got to eat them. The noodles in particular having set together in a gooey clump. She was happy with the food quality but had wished for a fully mixed soup in hindsight.
Basking in the late spring sunshine with our bellies full of splendid soup and our faces shaded by the tree above. I remembered the time we tried to come here the first time, it was 6 weeks ago and the city seemed like a different place, colder, darker a little more confusing, a little more intimidating. Now it seems like an old friend, the cherry trees and blossoms we elusively chased those weeks ago have passed us by, the sun now mottled by the young translucent leaves above.
These excellent soups I mention above, although wonderfully delicious, still left a ramen based itch not quite satisfied, I don’t think I’m going to be happy leaving Japan in a few days without having another bowl of Tonkotsu ramen. So I had one, and it was good!
It was well worth while going to a specific Tonkotsu ramen venue in Shibuya, it was a slightly surreal experience, with the order placed with a vending machine and served through a little hole in the counter, I wasn’t completely sure if this was a ramen place or a peep show. It was a little seedy, impersonal certainly, but I didn’t mind as the lip smacking ramen satisfied my craving. I had town ordered loads of extras to fully pimp my soup, extra pork, an extra egg and a pile of garlic, I ordered a little spice in my soup too, to deliver full satisfaction.
Now I think I can leave Japan satisfied.